ALBANY, N.Y., Sept. 9, 2007 –
Onnarin (Moo) Sattayabanphot of Bangkok, Thailand carded rounds of 71-67-72 to win the Duramed FUTURES Tour’s final tournament at 210 (-3). She edged Allison Fouch of Grand Rapids, Mich., by one shot when Fouch bogeyed the final hole at Capital Hills at Albany. Fouch fired a final-round 69 and posted a 54-hole total of 211 (-2).
That finish also enabled the former Purdue University collegian to climb into the top 15 on the Tour’s season money list to advance automatically into the LPGA’s Final Qualifying Tournament in late November. Both winning as a pro and earning a trip to LPGA Q-School were high priorities for the rookie at the start of the season.
“It means a lot to me this week,” said Sattayabanphot, 23, a former All-American and Big Ten All-Conference player at Purdue. “I always wondered if I could win out here. Now, I know.”
Of course, Bastel knew the rookie’s potential back in June when she took Bastel to two playoff holes in Decatur, Ill. Sattayabanphot (pronounced Sah-tah-yah-bun-pot) drained a long putt on top of Bastel to force the second extra hole and walked off the green eyes blazing, face flushed and fists clutched with excitement. If there was any doubt about the Thai player’s desire or ability, it was erased that afternoon.
“I’m not surprised at all that she won,” said Bastel, the Tour’s 2007 Player of the Year. “In Decatur, she played with the lead for most of the final round. I knew she’d be able to seal the deal today.”
The Thai player not only “sealed the deal,” but did it during the Tour’s final tournament and during a week when emotions ran high as players made their last stab at the season money list to earn the five 2008 LPGA Tour cards. Two storm suspensions today added to the frayed nerves, with the first suspension lasting two hours and 32 minutes, followed by a second delay for 27 minutes. Thunder began rumbling again right after Sattayabanphot’s final putt found the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole. The day was a soggy endurance test often exacerbated by the anxiety of the culminating week.
While heavy rain, soggy turf and eventually being chased to the clubhouse twice by lightning was disruptive enough, Sattayabanphot wasn’t rocked by the elements. She was more rocked by a pair of three-putts that caused her to give up three shots on two holes on her back nine. The former Boilermaker grabbed a share of the lead after frontrunners Kim Welch (76) of Sacramento and Ji Min Jeong (79) of Kyungki, Korea fell off pace on the front.
Welch tied for third at 212 (-1) with Taylor Leon (74) of Dallas, while Jeong dropped into a tie for ninth at 215 (+2) with Tiffany Tavee (74) of Gilbert, Ariz., Danah Ford (76) of Indianapolis and Vikki Laing (76) of Musselburgh, Scotland.
With Welch and Jeong slipping down the leaderboard, Sattayabanphot birdied the first hole from 15 feet and took the lead on the seventh hole with a 25-foot birdie.
But a double-bogey on the 10th hole and a bogey on the 11th – both the result of three-putt greens – made the Thai player wonder if she had what it takes to win. She was unable to muster another birdie on the back and scrambled to get up and down for par on the 10thhole.
The only player still challenging for the trophy was Fouch. But when the two-time 2007 winner missed a tricky three-footer for par on the 18th hole, the door swung wide open for Sattayabanphot. It was her tournament to win or lose. Fouch could only wait for three groups as the Thai player made her way to the last hole.
“I guess this is the easiest bogey I’ve had to swallow on the last hole, knowing that I’m going to get my [2008 LPGA Tour] card for finishing in the top five on the money list,” said Fouch, who earned the No. 2 exempt LPGA card. “The bogey was disappointing and I would have loved to get into a playoff to win. But it was Moo’s week. She hits the ball so well. She hits it far.”
And she has a history of making the most of her opportunities. When Sattayabanphot decided to try to go to an American university to play college golf, she knew she had to put in some work before she could even think of earning a college scholarship. For nearly a year, she studied English for up to nine hours a day with her aunt Vilailak Sattayabanphot back home in Bangkok. The goal was to prepare for the SAT test and the Test of English As A Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. She scored well in both, earned her college scholarship at Purdue, graduated with a degree in organizational leadership & supervision, and was the 2006 Big Ten Player of the Year.
“It was a dream to come to America to study here and to play on the LPGA Tour,” she said. “I was willing to risk everything to get here and I kind of started from scratch.”
When she made 2007 her rookie season as a professional, she was again starting over. But Sattayabanphot could hear her father’s words in her head.
“Everything is a process,” she said. “My dad always says everything is done step by step. I need to just go get it if I want something bad enough.”
Of course, that day in Decatur also was part of her learning process that enabled her to finally close the deal today. When she walked away from her loss to Bastel in Decatur, she learned to play the shots she was comfortable playing and to stick with her plan, rather than letting the situation of competition change the way she played.
And as it rained, stopped, and rained some more in today’s last round of the last tournament, Sattayabanphot just smiled. She came to America to play college golf in the Big Ten, where she had plenty of experience playing in less-than-ideal conditions. She was used to whatever Mother Nature could throw at her.
“Good thing I went to Purdue,” said the smiling Thai, whose white shirt was soaked orange after fellow Tour members poured cans of orange soda on her to celebrate on the 18th green. “I can thank the Big Ten for my win today. The weather was perfect.”
For scores and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.
Weather: Overcast with rain, fog and mist, turning into heavy rain with thunderstorms. Play suspended at 11:42 a.m., resuming at 2:23 p.m. Play suspended again at 4:03 p.m., resuming at 4:30 p.m. High temperature of 64 degrees with winds around 8 mph.
Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, Duramed FUTURES Tour at (863) 709-9100 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photos Janos Schmidt